Monday, July 15, 2013

White Mama, Black Son

Recently, a dear friend of mine asked me whether or not adopting a child of a different race has changed my worldview and if so, how?  I’d never really thought about it before, but then answer is: Yes. It has, but not in the way you’d imagine. The question was asked, I believe, regarding a black/white standpoint: White Mama, Black Son. Adopting a black child hasn’t changed our racial worldviews, per se, because we were just as concerned for equality in all races BEFORE our adoption as we are AFTER our adoption. Rather, it has made us more aware as to how far the world still has to go in acceptance. Our family firmly believes that, regardless of skin color, regardless of race, regardless of any differences, the Lord created us all in His image. We are equals and it has always bothered us that not everyone thinks like we do.

When we followed in obedience in adopting our son, we knew there would be stares, questions, and “concerns” born out of ignorance, but we were comfortable enough in our FAITH to bring home a child that doesn’t look like us. Our bio son and daughter both have fair skin, blonde hair, & blue eyes. Basically, they’re little American Swedes. I hate when people say things like, “we don’t SEE color.” Obviously, we “see” color, but diversity is beautiful and our black son is just as handsome and adorable as our white son. We recognize the differences in skin color because it’s THERE, but we APPRECIATE those differences. My white son will never have dark skin. My black son will never have light skin- BUT BOTH SONS ARE IN THE SKIN GOD GAVE THEM AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL, NO MATTER THE COLOR. We encourage them to be proud of their differences.

For us, the change in our worldviews stems not from adopting a “black” child, but rather from adopting a Ugandan child. I see things differently now from a socio-economic standpoint rather than a racial one. Let me explain: Prior to my visiting an actual orphanage, I was clueless about poverty. My knowledge of third world countries came from Sally Struthers and UNICEF commercials and I wasn’t prepared for the reality-check I would receive. Our family lives what we consider to be a “typical, upper-middle class lifestyle” only I have realized since spending time in Africa, that THERE IS NOTHING TYPICAL ABOUT OUR LIFE.  You guys, regardless of what your income is, you’re STILL wealthier than most people in the world. Side note: We live in a country where people spend more on their pets than they do in helping others. That’s messed up, y’all.  

Before I visited Uganda, I wasn’t so concerned with things like government assistance programs or education bills, or Community /Charter Schools. I now see the importance of every one of those government run programs and how crucial it is that they operate legitimately and effectively. Believe it or not, free public education is not available in other countries. And education was the ONE thing that EVERY kid we met in Uganda asked for. School isn’t free there. In fact, school is so expensive there that most families cannot afford to send their kids at all. Seeing that, made me realize the disadvantage that Community or Charter Schools would put lower income neighborhoods in. Evidently, our city has coin-tossed this idea for a while now and I’ve really never thought twice about it until now. For me, my kids would be in a great school with plenty of private funding available to buy resources such as iPads for classrooms, SMART boards, etc. But what about the lower income housing? Those kids would be disadvantaged over higher income neighborhoods. The teachers may be just as great & the kids are just as smart, but when the funds aren’t there to provide the same tools that “rich” schools get, it could create lower test scores, lower GPA’s, less chances of scholarships simply because the tools aren’t there.

I realize this post got a little scattered, but in my head it all totally makes sense.
One last note: Someone at a nail salon once tried to discourage me from adopting a darker skinned child because she warned, “He won’t fit in with blacks or whites”. Nonsense.  As Christ following parents, we aren’t here to make sure our kids “fit in” with peers. We’re here to make certain our kids STAND OUT IN FAITH. Our goal is to lead our kids to Christ in faith and by example and then sit back while they form Jesus-loving, God-fearing relationships with people of all color. I don’t want my kids “fitting in” with whites or blacks or Hispanics or Asians: I want my kids fitting in with Christ followers. True that.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pickle's back. Back again. Pickle's back. Tell a friend.


So much has happened in my life over the past year, but it can basically be summed up like this: kids, man. No one told me that when you had kids, life basically stops and all your hobbies are dropped like bad habits. No one. It HAS been pretty awesome though. In the past year, Bebe became a seven year old level two green belt in tae kwon do ninja warrior, Sir turned four and plans to be the next David Beckham, we adopted three year old, LP, from Ug@nda, and MP had to talk me out of selling all of our worldly possessions and moving us all across the ocean to Africa to live with and serve orphans. I was serious. He was not. I’ll wear him down one day. Trust.

Also, we’ve gotten two cats, one cat ran away, but we still have the angry, hate-filled cat that my kids call “Stoppit”. But you have to say it with demon-possessed disgust. That’s how you pronounce it correctly. She hates us way more than we hate her, but she lives outside and kills stuff a lot so she stays. Plus, we're afraid of her. Have you seen Pet Semetary?

What else? Oh, we released our catfish, Jerry, into the wild because he became too big to live in our fish tank. And he ate all the other fish so that earned him a one-way ticket to the Reservoir. Once he was gone we bought some goldfish affectionately known as “Feeta”, “Fishy”, and my personal favorite “Colonel Mustard”.  They are worthless, but the kids enjoy feeding them so there's that five minute entertainment every day. It buys me silence for *blink* THAT long.
MP and I are doing well. We celebrated our 12 year wedding anniversary this past weekend which was awesome because it was also Father's Day and our nieces birthday. And I was sick. We need a do-over celebration is what I'm saying.
And finally, since I last blogged, I changed jobs twice, MP was promoted and has also started a side business with two other partners, I won a personal trainer for 90 days, lost 15#, and subsequently gained it all back as soon as LP arrived home, and we are now a two-minivan family. So how cool is THAT?!
I’m tired a lot. LP is adjusting to us. The older kids are adjusting to LP. It's not easy, but it's wonderful. We work hard, we play hard, we love hard and we laugh a lot.

It’s been a big year.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Childlike Faith

When Kindergarten let out for the summer of 2012, Brogan announced that she was going to be “the BEST reader in the 1st Grade”. She decided she would read 50 books before the end of summer (actually, she has just changed this date to July 25 – I don’t know why, she picked the date herself J ). As incentive to help her reach her goal, Marty and I offered her $0.25 for every book she read. So we began frequenting the library as often as we could and she read. And read some more. And is still reading. With these last library books at home, she will have read 27 books as of this week- leaving only 23 books to read in 4 weeks). This does NOT include the books she reads at her summer care facility – these are only the books we personally have witnessed her reading. She loves to read, but even more than that – she loves to give.

At 6 years old, she has a bigger heart than most adults I know. She was blessed with a giving, compassionate spirit. She has a heart for others and is super excited about our upcoming adoption. She and Swaid have been involved in the adoption plan from the very beginning. We don’t hold anything back – they understand that some kids don’t have parents and WHY some kids don’t have parents. We speak to them about it in truth and in love. Swaid is only 3, but he seems to grasp the general concept. Brogan has always been very wise – much too wise for a child J She understands what it means to be an orphan and although she still has some “6 year old ideas” about certain things, she wants to help these kids.

On the evening of Sunday, June 24, 2012, we handed Brogan and Swaid their weekly allowances. We asked them what they’d planned on doing with their hard-earned money and Brogan told us she wanted to use all of her allowance, as well as, her “book money” to buy things to send to some kids in Africa. Specifically, to the orphanages we visited and to one very special place where a VERY special 2 year old little boy named “L” lives. We talked about certain things they needed such as baby wipes, over-the-counter children medications, dental supplies, water purification tablets, vitamins, hard candy, etc. She recently went to the dentist and this was on her mind so she decided to send them all toothbrushes, toothpaste, and flossers – kid LOVES to floss, yall. She then asked us how she could earn even more money and after much discussion, she ultimately decided to just read more books at $0.25 a piece.

You guys, my heart exploded. Our daughter just told us she was going to spend her money on dental supplies for kids in 3rd world country orphanages! I wish I could say that her response surprised me, but honestly? This is the kid that when given the choice of buying 2 presents at the dollar store, will ALWAYS choose to buy one for her brother. This is the kid that routinely gives up her seat to her brother because she knows it will make him happy – without being asked to do so. This is the kid that once bought a present for the bully at school because she didn’t believe he had been given presents before. This is the kid that wishes upon stars every night for every child in the world to have a home. This is the kid that blew out her 6th birthday candles and wished for $100 so she could buy orphans candy and toys. This is the kid that prays at night and asks God to make her “a better person”. She may have just turned 6 in May 2012, but she is more mature than a lot of adults I know.

Naturally, I did what any proud parent would do in this type of situation: I took it to Facebook. Within minutes and without solicitation, we started receiving  matches for every book she reads. As of today, she’s up to $5.50 per book and has received dental supply donations from Germany Family Dental in Brandon, as well as, Tony Lee, DMD in Florida! If she meets her goal of 50 books by July 25, then she will have earned $275 & dental supplies for some very special kids across the world. Not only that, but by sharing her idea, she has inspired kids as far away as California to host their own Read-A-Thons to help in their family's own adoption fundraising!

We are so proud of our kids. Our children are incredible and we give ALL glory and thanks to their Maker for entrusting them to us!

Mark 10:15
15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Adoption Update

I’ve been a little quiet on the adoption forefront, but I will say this: we are working with an orphanage that has become very special to us. There are SO many great kids that need loving homes and I’m excited to be a part of this. I ask that you continue to pray for us as we wait. I hate waiting. Like, a lot. There is a certain little nugget that completely stole our hearts while we were there. His case is being investigated, but really, I cannot tell you anything else. Please pray that this little boy be reunited with family IF love and care could be provided. If it cannot be, we would love to welcome him into our homes with open hearts. Either way, we know God will sustain him. And me. I hate to wait. Like, a lot. And I REALLY wanna hug him right now J

Also, if you haven’t already  -puhleeze go over to my friend, Christen’s, blog and read all about her adoption and how you can help be a part of it!


Friday, April 6, 2012


The consumer idea of Easter is colorful eggs, chocolate bunnies, candy, and a whole lot of food. Traditionally, we can wear white now, (but only until Labor Day) so we buy pretty new clothes. We plan huge meals, invite family over, hide and find eggs and await a large, mythical rabbit to bring goodies overnight. I’m so confused about it all. We all know that Easter isn’t about baskets and baby chicks, but it’s hard to focus on the true meaning when all we see is STUFF.

That being said, I should explain that I’m a visual learner. I read things and try to comprehend, but actually seeing or doing something helps me to “get it”, especially in a biblical sense. I cannot fathom what a “cubit” is, but if you show me exact measurements then I’m totally there. For example:

1.     The book of Exodus tells us that Aaron raised a staff in the Pharoah’s presence, struck the water, and all the water in the Nile River turned to blood. I’ve been to the Nile River. It exists. It sounds pretty unbelievable, but somehow actually seeing the river and visualizing brings it to life for me. I get it. It is amazing and it is real.

2.      The book of Acts tells us of the Apostle Paul’s arrest and imprisonment in Rome. Scholars believe the prison in which he was held has a name: Mamertine Prison. I’ve been there. I’ve walked on the very
floor that he laid upon. It exists. It is real.


3.      The book of Isaiah tells us that Jesus washes our sins as white as snow. I have confessed
            to Him, I have felt His presence, I have felt His love, His forgiveness. He is real.

4.      The book of John tells us of the crucifiction of Christ. He willingly laid his life down for us. You and me.

5. And it also tells us that He rose three days later. The best visual I have of this is: me. I am here. Despite all my sins, I am here. I am here because he died for me. He is real. And He is amazing.

Today I’m in awe that 2012 years ago Jesus died for me. Today marks the anniversary of freedom for all people who come to Him and that’s pretty awesome. Does it still seem hard to believe sometimes? Yes. Yes, it does. Who does that? Jesus does. I’m reading the story of the crucifiction and the subsequent resurrection and it amazes me. I almost cannot comprehend it, but I have felt it and I know in my heart that He has Risen.  It’s a Good Friday, y’all, but SUNDAY IS COMING!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 2 - Monday

We kicked off day 2 with a breakfast involving Super- Human Honey. This honey’s label told the story of the earth’s first 2 “super humans”, one of which birthed a gazelle in her womb and all the earth’s creatures followed. I don’t even know. But the honey was good. At our table was a group of guys (and gals) from Visiting Orphans/Sixty Feet. It was cool because Marty and I went to Atlanta a few weeks prior and actually met some of the guys in that group. Even cooler, the wife of the leader of THAT group was with US on our September trip. She actually told us that this group was going at the same time AND they had extra room at the guest house so that’s how we all got to stay together.

After breakfast, our driver (and newest friend/family member) Harriet picked us up and took us to exchange ½ of our American currency. That is important to remember for when we get to Day 6. We exchanged our dollah dollah billz, y’all and became millionaires because every $1USD is worth like 2400 schillings - we walked away with 1.7 million of them. That's how ballers do, y'all. Afterwards we bought a Ugandan cell phone, hit up a coffee shop for a glass bottle Fanta (yes!), and were met by Harriet’s husband, Francis. THE COOLEST UGANDANS ON THE PLANET! Francis took us to meet our attorney and then dropped us off at an orphanage. It was a place we visited last year and over the past few months we kept in touch with them. We LOVE this place. The director and the staff are amazing. I could literally gush until I cried about all they do for the children there, but I won’t. We spent the afternoon loving on kids, helping do laundry, feeding, bathing, changing diapers (they are cloth. And disgusting.), and played peek-a-boo forEVER with the cutest little nugget on earth. He comes up a lot so I’m going to call him Nugget, henceforth. We could have stayed there all afternoon, but had a good walk back to our guest home and didn’t want to be walking in the dark. Although I am basically 140# of RAW FURY, it didn't seem safe. We spoke with the director before we left and she told us that a large group had just left that morning, so if we wanted to move into their guest home, we could. And be with those crazy kids for HOURS every day? HECK. YES.

After our eternity long, uphill-all-the-way, walk back in the blazing Africa sun, we ate dinner with “The Group” and hung out for awhile, thinking about all those kids. We called OUR own kids from our very low-tech Uganda phone (we bought the cheapest one we could) and told them all about our day. They were pretty excited that we were bringing them back presents. But I like to think they missed us too…..

Tomorrow is really cool though………

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Recap: Day 1

I haven’t posted since our return from Uganda and I really cannot offer a good excuse. Lots happened while we were there, so I’ll take the next few days to re-cap our trip, but in a nutshell we: loved on lots of kids, lost our American currency, visited some beautiful places, marty hacked his head open with an axe while chopping wood at an orphanage, we saw the Nile River, we visited an emergency room, we had an awesome 11 hour layover in Amsterdam, our visa card got cancelled, we ate $19 hotdogs outside of Anne Frank’s home, we made several new friends and got to reconnect with old ones, oh, and we met a boy……

Day 1     We arrived super late at night after 2 super long flights, one of which I was seated by a cranky old lady who spent 8 hours hogging my armrest and turning off my air vent. Fortunately, I’m passive-aggressive in nature so instead of actually saying anything I’d regret, I kept my bitter thoughts to myself and Facebooked about her the first chance I got. I felt much better after that. This was upon arrival in Amsterdam where I enjoyed a delicious breakfast at McDonald’s. You can take me out of America, but you can’t take America out of me.

The last leg into Entebbe was pretty uneventful. When we arrived at the airport, we were met by our driver, Tom. Tom was pretty awesome and had the best laugh EVER. He took us to our guest home, Adonai 3, where we were greeted by Ms. Sarah and despite the fact that it was midnight, she greeted us with big hugs and the most beautiful smile EVER. We’d stayed here last September and she remembered us. Despite having no air conditioning (because it’s AFRICA and a/c is a LUXURY), we slept well………

Friday, March 2, 2012

I Want Some Chipati

This photo above? THIS is what a Ug*ndan Feast looks like and let me tell you, it was AMAZING! Mama Catherine not only has a heart of gold, but she is an awesome cook. This is the kind of food we’ll get to eat in a few weeks and I am so ready for it. In the meantime, I’m supplementing an actual post with our menu this week. Mainly because I already had to type it out and I didn’t want to duplicate another “writing” if I didn’t have to. Yes. I’m that lazy.

Friday: Hamburger Helper, carrots
Saturday: Poppyseed chicken casserole over rice, broccoli, mac n cheese
Sunday: Chili and cornbread
Monday: Chicken and dumplings, green beans
Tuesday: Tacos, refried beans, chips and salsa
Wednesday: Chicken pot pie
Thursday: Omelets, sausage, pancakes
Friday: Pizza, salad

So, yeah. There’s that.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Hero's Not Afraid to Give His Life.....

On my drive in to work this morning, I listened to a song called “Hero”. The lyrics very plainly stated this:

“A hero’s not afraid to give his life,
A hero’s gonna save me just in time”

Immediately my thoughts went to those faces of the children in Ug*ndan Remand homes. Where is their hero? Who is going to save them? Is it America? Is it me? And then reality struck me. We are not heroes for being obedient. These children already KNOW their hero. Their hero saved them when He laid down His life on that cross. These kids are extraordinary. In their culture, they are unwanted. By our standards, they have nothing. In a caste system, they are truly the least of the least. They have no name brand clothes, no Nikes, and no PCP or iPods, but what they do have is faith that could move mountains. And that’s all they rely on. They get it. I am so, so wrong. I went to Ug*nda thinking I was going to help some kids, but in reality they encouraged me more than I ever thought possible.

Our trip is coming up shortly and it hit me this morning as I was “feeling sorry” for them. You guys, they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are YOUR brothers and sisters in Christ. Our circumstances may be different, but we are all the same. Our lives have no greater value than that of an “unwanted”. He loves them just as much as He loves us. Sure, we each have a different, personal story to tell, but in “the big picture” we each have our own roles to play. My role is not to be a hero. My role is to follow in obedience to adopt, to mentor, to mother. Our God is up to some big things in their lives, I just know it. Those kids who I sit around feeling “sorry” for? They may one day be called to rise up and lead their country. I can’t keep questioning God, “why?” It’s His plan and by His glory it’ll be done.

In the meantime, I’ll take comfort in knowing that while I may not understand a lot of things, I do know we share the same hero.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Matt 10:29-31...Not Even a Sparrow.....

"Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to Him than a whole flock of sparrows." - Matthew 10:29-31






They are on my heart today.